Prescription Drug Addiction Can Be Reduced By E-Prescription System

Prescription Drug Addiction Can Be Reduced By E-Prescription System

The two largest online prescription drug networks in the country have merged operations, bringing 70 percent of U.S. drugstores into a network that allows doctors to remotely access patient data, and write prescriptions from their office computers. Called an "e-prescription system", it saves lives by reducing errors, and helps eliminate the prescription fraud commonly associated with prescription drug addiction.

The 'cashless merger' follows years of discussions and planning between the three largest managers of U.S. pharmacy plans and a group of drugstore chains that also have e-prescription systems. Drug outlets subscribing to the new larger system will include Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Duane-Read, CVS, and others.

Pharmacists strongly support electronically transmitting prescriptions and other patient information directly from computers in doctors' offices to the drugstore. More than 1.5 million Americans a year are affected by prescription errors due to illegible handwriting, and clarifying such confusions can cost pharmacies thousands of dollars a year in extra staff time.

The technology also helps save lives by avoiding dangerous drug combinations that occur when patients fail to tell doctors about other prescriptions they're taking. If it's a new doctor, and there's no record of the earlier prescriptions at any but the original drug store, patients are at risk of dangerous drug combinations.

As well as patient safety and convenience, e-prescription technology also helps combat prescription drug addiction by reducing 'doctor shopping'. Many prescription drug abusers travel from doctor to doctor, city to city, and even across state lines, hoping to secure a prescription for a controlled substance by faking symptoms to new doctors.

Unless addicts have sophisticated false identification, e-prescribing reduces prescription drug addiction because previous prescriptions written anywhere in the country by a participating doctor, or filled at a participating pharmacy, are in the database.

Equally important in the battle against prescription drug addiction are prescription forgeries, usually written on prescription pads stolen from doctors' offices. This avenue of support for prescription drug addiction is eliminated by paperless e-prescriptions.

The merged databases include medical histories and drug records for 200 million patients, and new patients are added as they arrive. Presently, only a tiny minority of physicians - around 6 percent - actually utilize e-prescribing, while over two-thirds of all pharmacies are equipped and ready for it. But health insurers, business groups, Congress and even the DEA are urging doctors and patients to take advantage of the added safety and convenience of online prescribing.

Drug stores nationwide have been subjected to increasing numbers of break-ins, employee thefts, and even daylight robberies at gun-point by prescription drug addicts seeking controlled substances. Although such crimes will not be prevented by e-prescription services, prescription drug addicts can begin to recover their lives through medical drug detox programs, whether after apprehension by law enforcement, or through support and encouragement from friends and family.

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